First workshop of the Behaviour Change SIG

The Behaviour Change Special Interest group held their first network and training day in October 2016 with a workshop focused on the Person-Based Approach to developing behaviour change interventions in primary care. The workshop was kindly hosted by the University of Southampton with support from the Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology (CCCAHP) and the Academic Unit of Primary Care and Population Sciences (PCPS).

Thirty-two academics and six speakers joined Dr. Sarah Tonkin-Crine (Oxford) and Dr. Ingrid Muller (Southampton) from across the country with attendees coming from as far as Keele and Cambridge. We were pleased to welcome a mix of clinical and non-clinical academics from multidisciplinary background representing the breadth of SAPC members.

After welcoming attendees and introductions, Professor Lucy Yardley kicked off the training with an overview of the Person-Based Approach. An approach based on the team’s experience of developing over 20 effective behaviour change interventions. Lucy introduced the process of using iterative qualitative work to inform intervention development and the idea of identifying “guiding principles” to clarify what a single intervention should seek to achieve. Dr. Leanne Morrison went on to give further examples of developing guiding principles in her own work and identified how this could help differentiate novel interventions from those that already exist. Next Kate Morton provided an excellent description of how researchers could incorporate theory into intervention development. The audience was particularly interested in her use of logic models, recognised in the MRC framework for developing interventions, to help specify the mechanisms by which interventions are thought to work. A group discussion at the end of the morning allowed the audience to ask questions relevant to their own projects and get specific feedback on ideas to develop interventions in their field.

Whilst breaking for lunch, and enjoying a great choice of food - thanks to funding from SAPC, we had some great conversations with researchers from various departments about their topics of interest. Many attendees were at the start of a project and were identifying ways to approach intervention development. We discovered a vast range of interests from supporting patients with long-term conditions to training healthcare professionals in evidence-based practice.

The afternoon session allowed the audience to have a go at identifying the guiding principles that needed to be incorporated in their own interventions. It was great to hear feedback from the groups about how they had found the exercise which had led to many realising the often implicit assumptions that we all make when developing interventions.

Following this exercise Dr. Adam Geraghty and Dr. Miriam Santer presented a session on incorporating qualitative work at later stages of intervention development. Adam discussed using “think aloud” interviews in order to get feedback about intervention materials from participants and highlighted how this could help understand how populations would interact with interventions in the real world. Miriam presented some excellent examples from her own research on children with eczema and discussed how qualitative work could inform feasibility studies of interventions.

Finally the day ended with a group discussion on lessons learnt during the day and points of action to take forward in our own research. Attendees were invited to complete a short survey following the event and we were pleased to see that all responders rated the workshop as excellent or very good and that all responders reported that the workshop met, or exceeded, their expectations.

We are very grateful to the groups at the University of Southampton for giving their time for free to support this event and for hosting us. We were particularly pleased with the number of attendees on the day and are grateful for the feedback we received from various individuals. We plan to host future SIG workshops focused on behaviour change interventions and welcome researchers who would like to share their work to contact us.